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    Supporting a Budget That Supports Our Communities

    By Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Councilmember At-Large–

    Writing a budget is about the numbers, and it is also about our values. After the release of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s budget proposal, the law requires the Council President to produce a set of budget amendments, in response to community needs and public input. On June 10, we had the opportunity to hear and respond to the budget proposal that I, as the current Council President, submitted. It seeks to respond to vital needs, reduce blight and trash, help the homeless and expand equity and opportunity. 

    Many of our neighborhoods, especially in East Oakland, lack adequate access to healthy food. My proposed budget amendment includes funding for heathy food corner store conversions, East Oakland business development and dedicated staff to ensure focus. 

    The number one concern for Oaklanders in the budget survey was homelessness and our unsheltered community. The point in time homeless study in Alameda County shows homelessness increased by 43% over the last two years. Our budget proposal establishes a mobile homeless outreach team, hires a full-time administrator to coordinate efforts, provides targeted services to homeless youth (including LGBT youth) and funds a pilot program for self-governed encampments.

    It expands temporary housing options, such as tiny homes and RVs with safe spaces to park, and provides funds for storage space, mobile showers and restrooms for our unsheltered neighbors, and to hire the homeless to help improve Oakland. The proposal expands pro-active illegal dumping removal and strengthens the enforcement and rewards program to make people stop dumping on Oakland, and expands support for job training and preparedness, and youth summer jobs.

    Our Amendment rejects the Mayor’s proposed cut of 8+ parks maintenance workers. This was planned to be handled by eliminating upkeep for over 30 community parks, many in areas that are struggling and cannot afford the blight and loss of access to healthy recreation that would be caused by leaving parks in disrepair. We have the opportunity to insist on a budget that responds to community needs. 

    Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan was elected in 2008 to serve as Oakland’s citywide Councilmember; she was re-elected in 2016. She also serves on the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC). Follow Councilmember Kaplan on Twitter @Kaplan4Oakland ( https://twitter.com/Kaplan4Oakland ) and Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/Kaplan4Oakland/ ).